Is The Dupe & Copycat Beauty Market Waning? Are We Over Cheaper Copies Of Firm Favourites?

For the best part of the past five years, we’ve been collectively obsessed with the dupe. Us beauty bloggers have undoubtedly been fueling the trend, promising readers that the latest eyeshadow palette to land on our doorstep is a brilliant copy of something four times the price, but the market has also been driven by technological improvements that allow us to buy into the same quality for a fraction of the previous cost. When I was growing up the only ‘budget’ beauty brands were Collection 2000 and Boots 17, both offering a plethora of products to get experimental with but the quality wasn’t there; as soon as we could upgrade to something a touch more glamorous, we would. Skip forward a few decades and those (rebranded) names are not only offering far superior quality and in some instances competing with some of the most luxury cosmetics available, but our high streets have been somewhat revolutionised. Names including MUA, Makeup Revolution, Lottie London, NYX, Freedom, GOSH, Miss Sporty, Model’s Own and Sleek are proving that you don’t have to spend a fortune to fill your makeup bag with greatness – but they’re also collectively providing us with dupes of everything from Urban Decay Naked palettes and Kylie liquid lipsticks, to NARS blushers and Bobbi Brown highlighters. For a moment there we got a bit excited, but are we over it? Is 2017 the year that we’re finally bored of the dupe and we start trading up for something we can treasure?

In my opinion the growth of our dupe fascination came with the rise in popularity of throwaway fashion and being able to snap up something on-trend for the price of your morning coffee. Primark allowed us to update last year’s jumper with the help of a £2.50 statement necklace, or pick up a pair of pumps for £4.00 during our lunchbreak; we became obsessed with buying all the fashion and always having something new to adorn our bodies with, as for the first time ever fashion became insanely affordable. It became the norm to buy a new outfit for every night out, because we didn’t have to break our backs to do so; it became pretty standardised to pick up a Mulberry or Chloe copy from New Look or Topshop as the high street tried to capture our attention in new and exciting ways. Unsurprisingly this filtered pretty quickly into the beauty industry, with consumers always wanting to hunt down that must-have product without having to fork out the full price.

Some brands have built their entire business models off the back of dupes, even taking the time to ensure their packaging is ‘inspired’ by their more expensive counterparts. Makeup Revolution, Barry M, Sleek, W7 and The Balm are some of the worst (or best) culprits, being able to turn around a new product and offer up a dupe sometimes within a few months of the original hitting shelves. Others take a softer approach, preferring to identify trends (nude eyeshadow palettes, liquid lipsticks and finely milled pigmented blushers) and create their own take without stepping on any toes. Up until this point they’ve benefited from a huge surge in consumer interest (fueled by bloggers knowing that anything considered a dupe will bring in those much needed hits!) but my gut feeling is that this is coming to an end. Although picking up a cut price item of makeup will give us a buzz, if it just doesn’t perform or feel like the original would we be better off saving our pennies and splurging on products we know we’ll thoroughly enjoy from beginning to end?

I love brands like Makeup Revolution, but I can’t help but feel like they need to step out of the dupe arena and create something new. Endless tweaks on the same product get a little dull, while a stand full of copycats makes me feel like they lack the creativity consumers are beginning to expect. Just as I’ve moved away from fast fashion, I’m also moving away from fast beauty; I would far prefer to spend £20.00 on something I know produces the results I need than impulsively chuck a few pounds on something ten times over that never gets used. Although the quality of affordable makeup is so much better than it ever has been, I do feel that as a society we’re moving towards more considered purchasing and are starting to make wise investments less often – rather than feeling the need to snap up anything and everything because it’s cheap.

Personally I adore affordable beauty and I know you do too; I know you love to find out what’s exciting and what bargain buys are worth snapping up, but it’s all about balance. I know you also want to know what’s worth spending your money on and making informed decisions about those purchases. Although I don’t think these affordable brands are going anywhere, I do feel that this year there will be a move away from creating copies and dupes – towards real innovation that stands on its own two feet. Brands including Kiko, NYX and Bourjois are creating covetable pieces (at affordable prices) without feeling the need to copy or imitate, to the point where they’re sure to become cult classics themselves; with the technological advances and birth of the internet allowing practically anyone to set up shop and ship worldwide, there’s no excuse to remain stagnant or just copy what everyone else is doing. Us consumers demand more, but brands are you listening?

What do you think about dupes and copycat brands? Do you love them and can’t get enough, or are you moving towards more considered investment purchases? Or are you just torn?

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The Big Pavlova Disaster

how to make pavlova

Sorry, we’ve had a mixed bag of posts this week what with egg separation and arm pits, I promise we’ll be back to beauty soon. I just need to be able to get through the door of the beauty room and I can get started with some photography and makeup tinkering. Mr AMR may well have to use a battering ram to get me in, as a pile of something heavy (possibly candles) seems to have avalanched from the shelves, jamming the door firmly shut!

Anyway, from eggs to arm pits to pavlova. This pavlova malarkey has been something of an ongoing saga – I was intending to make Nigella’s Prodigious Pavlova for Christmas Day but things just kept happening that should, by all accounts, have given me a little inkling that perhaps the pavlova wasn’t meant to be. Firstly I couldn’t find a baking sheet to fit the oven, so off Mr AMR went to get one from Tesco. Then I didn’t have any caster sugar, at which point Mr AMR gently suggested that maybe a Pavlova Postponement (PP) was prudent, especially as he had been back and forth to the shops in excess of five times already, collecting important things that I had forgotten for the Christmas period. (Bread, milk, potatoes, butter, the list goes on.)

After the three-day Pavolva Postponement, I decided to try again but my fruit had gone off and so had the cream. It was as though the pav was never meant to be!

A week later, and armed with fresh ingredients, I began to make my meringue base. All went well, thanks to the ready-separated egg whites (see here) and the handy meringue-making tips on Google (make sure you have a clean glass bowl, add the caster sugar a little bit at a time). By 10pm, I had produced the most perfect, peaky, glossy white meringue. All ready to be piled up with folds of luscious cream and tart globs of passion fruit. (If you want the recipe, it’s easy to find on Google – it’s from Nigella’s Christmas book, circa 2004.)

Now I know that what you are about to see looks like some kind of brain operation being performed on a sheep, or perhaps a post-mortem being carried out on The Snowman‘s head, but I want you to know that when I finished the pavlova it actually looked rather impressive. It was only when I realised that things had gone drastically wrong that I decided to do a photo, and by then I couldn’t be arsed to make it look nice. I had also battered it with a spoon in a temper and the side had collapsed:

pavlova disaster

Ha! What went wrong? You may well ask. It all looked perfect, and I was about to pour on my homemade raspberry sauce, when Mr AMR (who was busy licking the spoons and whisk beaters and so on) said, “is the cream supposed to taste this weird?” The cream was completely off! I mean disgustingly off! (PS Sainsbury’s, you owe me big time – the use-by date wasn’t even close and I am mentally scarred by the whole saga.) So, the whole pavlova went into the bin.

I realise that I may have bored some of you to tears with this post, I just needed to get the whole thing off my chest. Usually I’d make my Mum listen but she was busy moving an apple tree in the garden and didn’t have time for the whole, unabridged story. Back to beauty tomorrow – I’m never attempting a pavlova ever again!

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Water Song

Watersong is one of five different films from the same script. As part of Bombay Sapphire’s Imagination Series, Oscar winner Geoffrey Fletcher wrote a script stripped of any stage direction and asked people to imagine their film. Watch ‘The Mrs’ the next film in the series – http://youtu.be/fFlekZnZUjo Think you could imagine your film here? Go to http://imaginationseries.com to see Geoffrey’s new script and you could see it premiered on the big screen at Tribeca Film Festival next year.

Pure Retinol Instant Treatment Eye Masks / Mr AMR’s New Undereye.

Shiseido Benefiance Pure Retinol Instant Treatment Eye Mask

There was a genuine “hallelujah” moment when Mr AMR and I removed our Express Smoothing Eye Masks. Or I should say mask, singular. We only had one on each, because a) we both wanted to have a comparison “control” eye and b), these Shiseido masks are bloody expensive and I was feeling in a stingy mood!

Anyway, back to the hallelujah: never has an eye mask worked so well. On my eye (left one), all fine lines were totally smoothed out and the undereye area looked tighter and brighter, but didn’t have that horrible stretched feeling that some masks give you. As though you’ve applied washing-up liquid and left it to dry. Ugh, none of that. Great results.

But not as great as the difference on Mr AMR’s eye (right one, not that it matters), that quite literally looked as though it belonged to a different person! Mr AMR has a little tiny bit of creasey-ruggedness going on around the eyes, and I’m sure he won’t mind me mentioning that so long as I say that it’s the very Hollywoodhandsome kind of creasey-ruggedness. Anyway, he does, and the Shiseido Benefiance Wrinkle-Resist 24 Pure Retinol Express Smoothing Eye Mask (longest product name ever? Probably not) gave him a completely different eye. Almost totally smooth, very de-puffed and with a significant decrease in – er – crease. We were both quite wowed.

Shiseido Benefiance Pure Retinol Instant Treatment Eye Mask

I hadn’t really heard of these masks before – though I have tried many versions of the eye patch, see here – and so I went straight onto Google to see whether or not I was alone in my findings. Cue rave reviews on Makeup Alley, which only reaffirmed my belief that these Smoothing Eye Masks are the absolute bees knees. Terribly pricey, and the effects don’t really last more than a day (this is by no means a long-term anti-wrinkle solution!) but great if you have something important and jazzy to go to. (We were just off to Tesco, but still: you never know who you might meet. Shame that we only had one eye “done” each – next time I’ll push the boat out and give both a treat.)

More eye masks tried and tested…

Has anyone else tried these? I’d love to know how you got on. Unfortunately, the price of the Instant Treatment Masks is pretty prohibitive, really – I can never understand why beauty brands (and not just Shiseido, nearly all of them!) whack such enormous price tags on these eye patch/mask things. I think that all of the brands are missing a massive trick, because they could use the eye masks to win customers over to their everyday eye-care products – if you’re really impressed with an eye mask, wouldn’t you be tempted to try out the eye cream or serum from the same range? But the masks are just so expensive and I can’t imagine that a lot of people can justify splashing out on what amounts to so little, in terms of product quantity. Perhaps they are very costly to produce? I do wonder…

Anyway, mini-rant over: you can get 12 pairs of Shiseido masks for £59, making them around a fiver per pair. Find them here at House of Fraser. If you were looking for some pre-party quick-fixers, then these could be worth a go. I can imagine that makeup artists absolutely love them for pepping up tired models backstage and on photoshoots.

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